2014 BGSU Preview: What You Need To Know
Bowling Green RB Travis Greene
Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Bowling Green (Getty Images)
2014 Bowling Green
What You Need To Know
Bowling Green Preview
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer
What You Need To Know About The Offense:
Look out. Head coach Dino Babers knows how to ramp up an offense, but there
isn't much room for improvements after finishing ninth in the nation in passing
efficiency an averaging 459 yards per game. The Falcons were explosive and
effective last year, and now they should be absolutely dominant at times with QB
Matt Johnson returning along with just enough receiving talent to be fine, even
after losing the team's top two receivers. Travis Greene lead a potentially
devastating ground game with everyone back, including a good runner in Johnson.
Offensive coordinator Matt Mattox has to work a little bit on the line, but overall, expect the Falcons to come up with another terrific season.
What You Need To Know About The Defense: It might take a little work for defensive coordinator Kim McCloud to reload the nation's tenth-best defense. Seven key starters have to be replaced after doing a phenomenal job against the pass and after allowing just 16 points per game.
The linebacking corps will be the stength, and there are decent safeties, but
the pass rush and the line will need to undergo a bit of an overhaul. Don't
expect as much efficiency, but the D will destroy the weaker MAC offenses like
it did throughout last season.
Players You Need To Know
1. RB Travis Greene, Jr.
The 5-10, 181-pound Florida native didn't get any real work as a freshman, but he was considered a good kick return prospect and a potentially decent part of the rotation. However, there were other backs ahead of him last offseason and he was supposed to be a part of the mix. Instead, he turned out to be the main man from the start running for 88 yards against Tulsa and rolling for 100 yards or more nine times on the year and going for 96 yards or more during a stretch of ten games, finishing with 1,594 yards and 11 touchdowns averaging 5.7 yards per pop. Stopped against Indiana and Pitt, he wasn't able to find any room to move, but when he gets a little bit of a hole, he can zip and dart in a hurry. With decent hands, he can catch as well, making 18 grabs with two scores, but his real worth is as a steadying force for the offense. He'll need a little more help, but if he can stay in one piece he'll be an All-MAC star.
2. QB Matt Johnson, Jr.
One of the big keys going into last season was having a veteran quarterback in Matt Schilz to work around. While he was a big, good passer, he had a problem with interceptions and wasn't a runner. Enter Johnson, a good prospect who might not be all that big at just 6-0 and 215 pounds, and he might be built more like a running back, but he's a baller who took over the job and never let it go, hitting 64% of his passes for 3,467 yards and 25 scores with seven picks. While he's not going to be Jordan Lynch running the ball, he finished second on the team with 238 yards and five touchdowns, barreling his way for 72 yards in the key win over Buffalo and 33 against NIU. He takes too many sacks, and he doesn't have a big downfield arm, but he spreads the wealth around well and doesn't make a slew of big mistakes. He didn't have any multi-pick games and only dipped under the 50% mark passing in the opener against Tulsa. When he was on, he was unstoppable, throwing for 393 yards and five scores in the MAC title win over NIU and completing 70% of his throws or more six times. Now this is his offense and his team, and while he won't take too many chances, he could blow up big under the new coaching staff.
3. LB D.J. Lynch, Sr.
At 6-0 and 250 pounds, he's a big, tough hitter on the inside who's great against the tougher running teams and quick enough to handle himself well against the spread teams, making 11 tackles against Northern Illinois. The Second Team All-MAC performer led the team with 85 tackles while also doing a decent job at getting behind the line. A true leader, the defense is his to run whether he's inside or out, he's built to be a middle linebacker – consider it a shock if he doesn't make 80-plus stops again.
4. LB Gabe Martin, Sr.
When he's healthy, he's among the MAC's most active defenders and best all-around defensive playmakers. Extremely smart and very active, the 6-1, 229-pounder is always in the right position and he's always in the right spot. How respected is he? He still earned Second Team All-MAC honors despite missing a bulk of the season with a torn ACL, making 36 tackles on the year with two sacks, but when he's right, he's great at getting behind the line coming up with a team-leading 70 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in 2012. Quick, he's also terrific in pass coverage, but first he has to get his range back after the injury.
5. OG Alex Huettel, Jr.
The Second Team All-MAC performer wasn't the star of the offensive front at right guard, but he was a key part of the running game and the one the team worked behind in key situations. Versatile, he'll be tried out in a few different spots, but he's best for the interior with 6-3, 292-pound size and excellent pop off the ball.
6. S Ryland Ward, Sr.
The playmakers at the whip/free safety, he came up with a steady 81 tackles with 21 in the final two games against NIU and Pitt. It's not a great thing that he's making plays down the field – that means the front seven isn't doing his job – but at 5-10 and 206 pounds he has good size, and he's quick enough to get to the ball with two picks and five broken up passes. He should be an All-MAC performer as the key part to a retooling secondary.
7. WR Ronnie Moore, Soph.
If you're looking for a possible breakout star, Moore could be exactly what the offense needs as a No. 1 target who could replace Shaun Joplin on the outside or work in the slot again. While he's only 5-9 and 164 pounds, he can flat fly. He got a few starts, but he showed flashes of greatness late in the season making seven grabs for 161 yards and three scores against Eastern Michigan and ripped apart NIU for 145 yards and a touchdown on four catches. He only made 28 catches for 547 yards on the year, but he averaged 19.54 yards per pop with a team-leading seven scores.
8. DE Bryan Thomas, Sr.
While he's a woefully undersized tackle at 6-2 and 257 pounds, he's active and great at getting into the backfield from the interior. Quick and strong for his size, he can handle himself well inside, but he's far better suited on the outside or as a 3-4 end, making 37 tackles with a sack and seven tackles for loss. He might not be a top-shelf speed rusher, but he's a good athlete who now needs a little bit of help with Ted Ouellet and Jairus Campbell gone inside.
9. WR/KR Ryan Burbrink, Jr.
The 5-8, 188-pound quick target was okay as a quick inside target, catching 30 passes for 477 yards and two touchdowns – highlighted by a 92-yard scoring play against Kent State - but he has the hands and the darting ability to do even more. He earned Second Team All-MAC honors as a punt returner, even though he returned a whopping five kicks in conference play for 16 yards. He took one to the house in the opener against Tulsa, and he has the gamebreaking ability to grow into a bigger star offensively in the sped-up offense.
10. OT Jacob Bennett, Soph.
The pass protection has to be far better, and it needs to start with Bennett, a 14-game starter at left tackle with excellent size and upside. He beefed up over the last year, going from 316 pounds to 337, but he carries it fine on his 6-4 frame. A blaster of a run blocker, he's strong and handles himself well when he's able to lock on, but he needs to be better against the speed rushers.
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